Our 1973 Mets player profile this week takes a look at the rock-solid second baseman on the club, Felix Millan. Millan was a fundamentally sound player and an outstanding fielder, as well as a smart contact hitter. In 1973, Millan hit .290 with a .332 OBP out of the second spot in the order. The two-time gold glove winner made only 9 errors in 153 games in 1973. Over the course of his 12-year career, Millan hit .279 with the Braves and Mets.
The Mets acquired Felix Millan from the Braves after the 1972 season. In the deal, the Mets also received starting pitcher George Stone, while sending pitchers Gary Gentry and Danny Frisella (who died tragically in an auto accident) to Atlanta. After suffering a season-ending injury in 1977, Millan never again played for the Mets, or in the major leagues, playing a couple of years in Japan in the late 1970s. The season-ending injury in 1977 was rather interesting. The Mets were playing the Pirates in Pittsburgh, and Pirates catcher Ed Ott slid into second base to break up a double play. Millan took exception to the slide, and had a few words for Ott, who was built like a full back (Millan is NOT a big man). Ott slammed Millan to the ground, separating the second baseman’s shoulder. Millan was involved in another strange set of circumstances while with the Mets. On July 21st, 1975, Joe Torre hit into four double plays. Millan had singled in front of Torre before each of Torre’s at bats. Torre later said, “I’d like to thank Felix Millan for making all of this possible”.
Millan was known for heavily choking up on the bat, which is probably why he was so tough to strike out. In fact, in 1973, Millan struck out 22 times in 638 at bats. That, folks, is incredible. Once during an interview with Ralph Kiner on “Kiner’s Korner”, Millan said he chokes up so much that “I can hit the ball with both ends of the bat”. In the 1973 postseason, Millan hit .316 in the NLCS against the Reds, and .188 in the World Series against the Oakland Athletics. Millan is still active with the Mets, and attends team functions on a regular basis.
For younger readers, think of Millan as a former-day Ruben Tejada. Both are steady, if not spectacular, players, well-versed in executing the fundamentals of the game. Both make all the routine plays (the first 11 games of this year notwithstanding), and can run long at-bats against tough pitchers. Felix Millan turns 69 this year, and resides in his native Puerto Rico. Here’s a Rising Apple hat-tip to a solid, productive New York Met from 1973.
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